After widespread attention and public debate on the recent hoisting of a Pride Flag at the US Embassy Down Town and at its Chief of Mission Residence on Sanford Road, the US Embassy in the Bahamas is doubling down on its posture to fly the controversial flag.
In a Facebook post uploaded Wednesday afternoon, the embassy says, “The United States believes that all human beings, regardless of who they are or who they love, deserve dignity and respect, and to be free of fear, stigma, and discrimination.”
The video shows Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts holding the LGBT Pride flag as another Pride flag and a US flag billows from a pole outside of its embassy.
This comes after the Bahamas Christian Council called its actions a “bullish agenda of forcing other nations to accept their social experiments,” adding that the US is “insensitive to the moral and ideological position,” of the Bahamas.
Public reactions have been widespread, some in support of the move and others have opposed it, standing in agreement with the Bahamas Christian Council.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in President Joe Biden’s administration authorized U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world to fly Pride flags, on the same pole as the American flag at embassies and consulates.
This marks a move by President Biden to overturn a ruling by Former President Donald Trump which mandated that the American flag should not be flown with other flags.
The Bahamas Christian Council is denouncing a recent move by the US Embassy to fly the Pride Flag at its US Embassy at its Down Town office and at its Chief of Mission Residence.
In a press statement released late Tuesday evening, the BCC said the actions of the US Embassy are “insensitive to the moral and ideological position of this country regarding the lifestyle of homosexuality.”
The BCC says it fears that the raising of the Pride Flag at its embassy can influence the country’s social and political arena and result in “diplomatic bullying.”
“We believe that all foreign diplomats should appreciate how offensive it is to attempt to impose their ideology unto other nations as they will never stand for us to do the same in their country. This is a matter of respect and diplomatic assault upon the consciousness of our Bahamian society.”
Why it matters
The Bahamas prides itself in its Judeo-Christian values, where Christianity remains the largest religion that teaches the traditional family structure.
However, the US Embassy said it is honoring the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons in the Bahamas and around the world for the entire month of June, which is celebrated as LGBTQI+Pride Month in the United States.
The big picture
Secretary of State Antony Blinken in President Joe Biden’s administration, authorized U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world to fly Pride flags, on the same pole as the American flag at embassies and consulates.
Blinken however, noted that it was not a requirement, stating that the Chiefs of mission “determine that such a display is appropriate in light of local conditions.”
President Biden overturned a ruling by Former President Donald Trump which mandated that the American flag should not be flown with other flags, but alone.
The spotlight has shone on Pastor of Mt Tabor Bishop Neil Ellis who lambasted Prime Minister Hubert Minnis from his church’s pulpit on Sunday, railing against his handling of the COVID-19 while accusing him of “acting like a god” and one who “does not believe in God.”
Ellis spoke up against the continued lockdowns and restrictive measures implemented to prevent the spread of the virus.
But the part of Ellis’ speech that caught the most heat was accusations that Minnis was not a follower of Jesus, which he later denied that he referenced the prime minister.
Ellis said in his sermon on Sunday, “You (PM Minnis) are insulting our intellect and parading on our democracy and sidelining our right of movement and humiliating our business owners and entrepreneurs. Your one-man stand is killing our economy and it sure doesn’t help when the one in the chair does not believe in God.”
But on Monday morning, Ellis told ZNS in an interview, “I will never seek to say who believes or who does not believe in God because only God knows the secret of a man’s heart. So this was definitely not attributed to the prime minister.”
Who is Bishop Neil Ellis?
Ellis is the senior pastor of a megachurch, reported having nearly 7000 members in 2011. He affiliates with renowned preachers and mega international churches, once connected to the Full Gospel Church in New Orleans, then forming an organization of his own called the Global United Fellowship, which boasts of nearly 1400 churches in 42 Countries.
Ellis has since transitioned from the title of “Bishop” to “His Grace.”
He was referred to as Former Prime Minister Perry Christie’s spiritual adviser, during the PLP’s 2012-2017 reign in power. His influence runs deep within the PLP claiming to be a protege of the PLP’s founding father the late Sir Lynden Pindling and a close friend of PLP’s campaign financier Frankie Wilson.
Bishop Ellis made similar spirituality claims of Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie but denied it too
A 2011 Wikileaks cable shows that Ellis told US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Witajewksi in 2003 in a meeting that Hubert Ingraham is “not a man of God,” even if he does attend church, nor is Perry Christie a “true man of God,” although he was trying to be religious.
When the Nassau Guardian confronted Ellis with the statements in 2011, Ellis denied the statements attributed to him, saying, “I don’t qualify to determine who is a man of God and who is not a man of God.
“…For me to say I think Christie is a pretender would be very hypocritical of me because I’ve always said publicly and I would say again, I believe Perry Christie is one of the greatest humanitarians I’ve ever met.”
Bishop Ellis further rejects claims he told members to ‘vote PLP or leave the church’
Ellis further denied a controversial statement made in 2002 when reports claimed that he told his congregants to vote for the PLP, and if they did not, they should leave his church.
But according to Wikileaks reports, Former US Ambassador Richard Blankenship said Ellis told him that the tape — “which he claims contains selectively edited portions of three different sermons — could easily lead you to believe he had instructed his church how to vote.”
Blankenship continues, “According to Ellis, his comments were taken out of context, and that while he did officially endorse Christie and the PLP from the pulpit on several occasions (doing as he says the Holy Spirit moved him to do), he never tried to tell others how to vote or threatened anyone if they didn’t vote for the PLP.”
Despite his particular political opinions, Ellis says he has respect for all leaders.